The McKnight Handicap- Grade III
GP Race 10 1 1/2M Turf
Purse $200.000 For Four Year
Olds and Upward
1 Blue Eight, trained by Blushing Meadows
Started of the year with a win in an open allowance at GG which was only his 2nd lifetime start on the grass. Prior to that had not won in 18 months but as mentioned previously they were almost entirely on the dirt. Seems to be a notch below some of the others in here but I would not be shocked if he was able to pull the upset.
2 Boxter, trained by Defoe
Picked up for $25.000 back in September he has finished 3rd in both starts for his new connections. Tends to be on or near the lead in most of his races and from the inside post should not have to expend much energy to get a good spot. Has only won once going a mile or longer so this distance will put a real strain on him and I expect he will lead for about 8 furlongs before hitting the wall.
3 Jamie Mach, trained by Gdp Inc.
Won 4 of 6 in 2017 including an open allowance at Santa Anita in his last outing that was contested at today’s distance. Versatile running style should allow him to either sit close to a slow pace or drop off a fast one and close. Has some impressive speed ratings in his last four races and is my pick for the top spot.
4 Mad Hatter, trained by Paradise Stable
2 for 15 lifetime with earnings of only $35.000. Has raced well in his two most recent affairs which were both at today’s distance. Seems to be a deep closer so will need a lively pace to close into and with several front runners in here he may get it. In any event it would be hard for me to recommend ahead of some of the more proven ones in here.
5 Speeding Zeus, trained by Maxmillon Farm
Purchased for $25.000 and was then thrown right into the deep end by racing in two Grade 1 races. Did not manage to hit the board in either of those but also did not embarrass himself. Dropped in class and won a starter allowance last out. While the trainer does have a knack for winning these long turf races this one appears a tad slower than some others in here.
6 Lunar Blaze, trained by John Henry
The high earner in the field but was not able to find the winners circle in 2017. Went on a roll in 2015 where he won 5 races in a row including The Arlington Million. Was then sold for $1,250.000 and then sold again to the current owner for $500.000 but still looking for his first win since that streak. Seemed to do his best running on the lead but as of late has been racing mostly from several lengths back. If he can find his best form will be a major player here but not sure he will be able to do that.
7 The Force Awakens, trained by Diablo Diablo
Seems to have found his best stride since moving to the turf registering speed ratings over 100 in three out of four of them. Another one that seems to like to be on or near the lead and with this post position I would expect him to get pushed to the front. The main challenge is that he will spotting the entire field 4-5 pounds and I think that will be too much to overcome.
8 Wagon Wheel, trained by Invicta Group Llc.
This old war horse will be making his 30th start here and has only managed to bank $150.000 from his first 29. Was racing in a $4.000 claimer back in 2016 and has not seen this level of competition before. He does do his best running from behind so a possible fast pace may help his case, but I cannot see him winning here.
I believe Jamie Mach can sit a nice trip stalking a dueling pace and getting the win as he seems to be in the best form. I will look for Lunar Blaze to find enough back class to get the place with The Force Awakens and Blue Eight rounding out the superfecta.